Local modulation of chemoattractant concentrations by single cells : dissection using a bulk-surface computational model

Mackenzie, J.A. and Nolan, M. and Insall, R.H. (2016) Local modulation of chemoattractant concentrations by single cells : dissection using a bulk-surface computational model. Interface Focus, 6. 20160036. ISSN 2042-8898

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    Abstract

    Chemoattractant gradients are usually considered in terms of sources and sinks that are independent of the chemotactic cell. However, recent interest has focused on "self-generated" gradients, in which cell populations create their own local gradients as they move. Here we consider the interplay between chemoattractants and single cells. To achieve this we extend a recently developed computational model to incorporate breakdown of extracellular attractants by membrane-bound enzymes. Model equations are parameterised using published estimates from Dictyostelium cells chemotaxing towards cyclic AMP. We find that individual cells can substantially modulate their local attractant field under physiologically appropriate conditions of attractant and enzymes. This means the attractant concentration perceived by receptors can be a small fraction of the ambient concentration. This allows efficient chemotaxis in chemoattractant concentrations that would be saturating without local breakdown. Similar interactions in which cells locally mould a stimulus could function in many types of directed cell motility, including haptotaxis, durotaxis and even electrotaxis.